Where art, culture, and incredible historic architecture meets a surge of cosmopolitan modernity, Warsaw is perfect for business and leisure, as Finbarr Toes-land discovers
With an eclectic mix of high-rise blocks, designer boutiques and worn-down, Communist-era buildings, it’s impossible to easily define the Polish capital, Warsaw. Almost completely destroyed after Hitler razed the city to ground after the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, the city has managed to truly rebuild itself.
As the often repeated adage goes, there is something for everyone in this revitalised city. Teeming with quaint and cobblestoned Old Town squares, locals and tourists alike wonder around with a coffee or sip a glass of wine in the evenings, admiring the Mermaid monument, the city’s symbol, in the main square.
Warsaw is well known for its and arts and culture, so enthusiasts won’t have to look far for a museum or gallery that meets their interests. From the National Museum that boasts Europe’s largest collection of Nubian Christian art and countless Polish paintings from as far back as the 16th century, to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews that illustrates the experience of Jewish people throughout Poland’s history.
If viewing the latest fashion collections is more up your street, the fashion mecca of Vitac is a one-stop-shop for luxury fashion, streetwear, homeware and fine dining. Set over five floors its very easy to spend an entire day browsing through the latest lines, pop into the gaming room and finish off with a visit to the modern Concept 13 restaurant that offers stunning views over the city.
Home to high-end labels as diverse as Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens, Louis Vuitton, and Junya Watanabe, as well as a small handful of high street brands like Adidas and Diesel, fashion lovers will be spoilt for choice.
Burgeoning business centre
The Mokotow district, the largest business area in the capital, has also improved significantly in recent years. Once infamous for its almost constant traffic jams, compounded by building works, Marynarska Street has now been widened and the Postępu flyover was built to make travel smoother than before.
Located close to Chopin airport and the Galeria Mokotow shopping centre, this business district offers corporate travellers the chance to enjoy their downtime and try out local cuisine. The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine, transformed parts of Warsaw and its impacts are still being felt more than a decade later.
Chopin airport was built for the championship and a great deal of infrastructure was built around the PGE National Stadium, which was also built for the event. Several major events have taken place at this stadium, including a UN Climate Change Conference and a NATO Summit. Plans are being discussed to construct a new exhibition complex and event space right next to the stadium.
Few European cities can match Warsaw when it comes to the quality of new hotel openings in recent years. While a decade or so ago the city was relatively limited in modern, luxury, 5-star properties, the Raffles Europejski Warsaw opening in June 2018 and the Nobu Hotel Warsaw in August 2020, marked a major step forward for the hotel scene.
Opening a new hotel can be a challenge at the best of times, but Nobu – part of a hospitality group that Robert De Niro has a share in – launched at perhaps the least opportune time during the first few months of the global pandemic. Despite this inauspicious start, the twelfth hotel in the growing Nobu portfolio quickly found its feet in the city’s Old Town. Both business and leisure travellers are well-catered for at this exclusive property. Housed in a historic 20th century art deco building, all of the 117-rooms feature local materials, a traditional Japanese tea set, Natura Bisse bath amenities and, of course, in-room dining from Nobu Warsaw.
As can be expected by a hotel co-founded by renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa, the on-site restaurant pays homage to the finest Japanese cuisine with signature dishes such as Black Cod with Miso, Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno on offer alongside innovative creations that have a South American influence.
Raffles Europejski Warsaw offers a more old school style of luxury, thanks in large part to the hotel being located in the neo-renaissance palace built by Enrico Marconi in 1957. After a compassionate four-year restoration process, Raffles Europejski Warsaw began accepting guests in 2018 and showcases some of the finest art Poland has to offer.
Curated by Anda Rottenberg, a former Director of the Zachęta National Gallery of Art, it’s no surprise that the works of more than 120 artists, including Wilhelm Sasnal, Monika Sosnowska and Goshka Macuga, are on show.
"Vitac is a one-stop-shop for luxury fashion and streetwear"
It is difficult to beat the location of Raffles Europejski Warsaw on the Royal Route that connects streets that feature an array of historical landmarks. Guests won’t have to go far when staying at Raffles Europejski Warsaw, with a luxury shopping centre, restaurant, spa and Lourse patisserie all housed at this grand hotel.
In just a few minutes walk, visitors can get to the 19th century Polish National Opera or just stay in your room with views onto the Presidential Palace. Running all the way from Warsaw’s Castle Square to the former residence of King Jan III Sobieski, Wilanow, it would take days upon days to visit all the notable castles, parks, palaces and churches on these storied connected streets.